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Army launches offensive against IS militia

Saturday, August 19th, 2017 | World News

The Lebanese army is launching an offensive against the Islamic state (IS) in the east of Lebanon. At the same time, the Syrian military and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which is allied to it, attack the terrarium in the border area.

Lebanese security forces said the army was approaching the city of Ras Baalbek with missiles, artillery and helicopters against IS fighters. Behind the border on the Syrian side, the Islamists were attacked by the troops of Syria and Hezbollah. The IS fighters have entrenched themselves in an enclave in Lebanese territory. Their number is estimated at hundreds.

The military operation near the border with Syria had been launched "in the name of Lebanon, the captured soldiers and the blood of the martyrs", Army chief Joseph Aoun explained on Twitter on Saturday morning. A spokesman for the Lebanese army said the offensive was not discussed with Hezbollah and Syria. On the other hand, a commander of the military alliance, allied with the Syrian government, said "there is a vote, of course."

  A joint military operation would be politically delicate, because it could jeopardize the extensive US military aid to Lebanon. The Washington administration considers the Hezbollah supported by Iran as a terrorist organization.

The IS controls Lebanon areas in the east on the border of the border towns of Ras Baalbek and Al-Kaa. The extremists still have nine Lebanese soldiers in their power, which they had captured in fighting with the army in 2014.

As early as the beginning of August, more than a thousand fighters from the Syrian Al-Qaeda detachment had left the Lebanese border area towards the neighboring civil war country. The group then agreed to fight with the powerful Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. It supports the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The IS has been hit hard by offensives in Syria and Iraq over the past months. At the beginning of July the jihadists were expelled from the Iraqi city of Mosul after months of fighting. In Syria, the IS still holds Rakka, but it seems only a matter of time that they will lose their former high castle in Syria.

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